Londrina June 27, 2011

Olá Momma Bom dia!

Thank you very much for the letter! I appreciate very much the advice and everything. I am glad you sent me the advice as well about quick baptizing. I helped me think a little bit more about the work. Elder Stinocher was very much the same way and I think we had some good solid baptisms in Bauru. You are right; being assistente has made me a bundle of nerves. For sure it is not any justification, but as an assistant you basically have to have quick baptisms.

We had tons of miracles and baptisms this week in Foz do Iguaçu. I have a hard time with the purpose of these divisions but let me explain what President says. These zones are where the missionaries are having lots and lots of trouble. We had missionaries in the zone Foz that have almost 2 years on the mission and haven´t baptized anybody in more than 4 months. The zone as a whole was baptizing/teaching and finding less than a district in other zones. Like I said in the other letter the AP’s are kind of President’s SWAT team. President sent us there and said “these missionaries need the experience of baptism. Come back when you baptize there.” It seems like craziness and I hope and pray so much that these people don’t go inactive. The people still have to complete the rules for baptisms and fulfill all of the commandments and so we generally search the area book for old investigators who already had all of the lessons or incomplete families that have children that weren´t baptized. That way hopefully they have a support group afterwards. I like way more to work with the members and have activities and work with people, but as an assistant we only stay in an area a matter of days. I hardly know my own area in Londrina! So that’s what happens. I don´t love quick baptisms either, but it can affect and change a zone.

Continuing what happened in Foz. The missionaries there when we arrived were all super discouraged and tired, not having baptized in a long time. At the first of the week we had a Zone Meeting and Elder Ayres and I gave trainings about faith and action and challenged everyone to baptize this week. We took off and found 3 people to baptize the weekend. The others seeing our example got really excited and challenged people to baptize, taught way more lessons, worked harder and the Lord blessed the Zone with more than double the baptisms that had been marked for the week. I saw miracles like bringing 13 people to church after 2 months of zeros, investigators having changes of hearts and deciding to be baptized for themselves. We found a woman walking in the street 10 minutes before church on Sunday and she went with us along with her two kids. She felt the Spirit so strong in the meeting that afterwards she asked US to be baptized next week. I don’t believe these things would be possible without the Spirit and the help of the Lord. So I don’t know how I feel; stressed certainly. I don’t want to become a missionary robot that only cares about numbers, but it is almost my job description right now. What is your advice about this? I pray every night to be an instrument in the Lord´s hands and then try to do what President tells me. I will include here the account that the missionary in Foz sent to President after our division.

"Na sexta-feira tínhamos uma entrevista batismal com a Ana só que ela não passou na entrevista. Então saímos da capela e vimos no nosso planejamento os nomes de algumas pessoas que já tinham ido à igreja, então fomos a uma família menos ativo uma mãe com cinco filhos, chagando na casa dela saiu a filho dela chamado Alexandre de 17 anos e estávamos em quatro missionários Elder Ayres, Elder Thiago, Elder Muniz e Elder Guimarães, quando entramos na casa do Alexandre chamamos toda a família ai Elder Ayres falou “temos o presente de ano que irá mudar a família de vocês!” e eles se perguntaram – que presente? – e Elder Ayres disse: “o Senhor escolheu o Alexandre para ser batizado!” Então perguntamos se ele tinha problemas com a Palavra de Sabedoria e Lei da Castidade e ele não tinha problema com nada, então marcamos o batismo dele para o domingo e a mãe dele ficou muito animada e ele também com o batismo. E em seguida deixamos a mensagem e ele foi batizado no domingo, e naquele mesmo dia ele orou e sentiu que teria que ser batizado. Antes disso estávamos orando para o Senhor nos mostrar alguém que estava preparado para ser batizado guardando todos os mandamentos e o Senhor nos mostrou o Alexandre e com isso a família ficou animada e foram no domingo a igreja.
A divisão com os assistentes me ajudou a confiar mais no Senhor e que milagres vão acontecer se trabalhamos com afinco e diligentemente como o Senhor espera que façamos. Por que depois que acabou a entrevista da Ana eu não fiquei desanimado por que eu sabia que naquela semana nós poderíamos batizar, então trabalhamos, oramos muito e acreditamos que poderiam acontecer milagres e o Senhor nos mostro que quando acreditamos nele vamos ter resultados bons do nosso trabalho. Pude ver também que não bastam somente termos fé, mas também temos que ter obras e isso nos ajudou a conseguir o batismo."
(Rosemary’s translation: "On Friday we had a baptismal interview with Ana but she did not pass the interview. So we left the chapel and we saw in our planner the names of some people who used to go to church, then became less active; one of those names was a family with a mother with five children. She had a son who was in her house she called Alexander, 17 years old. We were four missionaries, Elder Ayres the Elder Thiago and Elder Muniz and Elder Guimarães when we entered the house of Alexander we called the whole family together. Elder Ayres said "we have a present this year that will change your family!" and they asked – “What present?” - Elder Ayres said: "The Lord chosen Alexander to be baptized!" So we asked if he had problems with the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity, and he had no problem with anything, so we scheduled the baptism Sunday. The mother became very animated and Alexander excited also with baptism. And we then taught a lesson and he was baptized on Sunday and that day he prayed and felt he had to be baptized. Before that we were praying for the Lord to show us someone who was prepared to be baptized and kept all the commandments and the Lord showed us that Alexander and his family was excited and went to church on Sunday.

The division with the assistants helped me more trust in the Lord and that miracles will happen if we work hard and diligently as the Lord expects us to do. For just that after the interview with Ana I was not discouraged because I knew that week we could baptize, then worked, prayed a lot and believe that miracles could happen and the Lord shows us that when we believe it'll have good results of our work. I could also see that not enough just to have faith, but we have to work and helped us get the baptism.")

Steven writing:
I got back from Foz today at 5:30 in the morning and so I am a little bit super tired, but fortunately tomorrow we just have meetings with President all day so I can probably fall asleep in a corner :)
I want you to know that I love you very very much! You are the best mother I could hope for and I will continue praying for you every single day and night. I hope you feel better from your cold and have a great week! Please give Sharon a ginormous hug for me and tell the ward I am doing well!
As a birthday present for Grandma Junece I got a picture of this cool owl! Happy Birthday!
I know that God lives and loves us. He has a plan and a purpose for all of us. I am learning a lot about patience and hard work here. Above all, Jesus Christ is our savior and all of our troubles will one day pass. Have a great week and write back soon!
Your tired but very happy son,
Elder Markham

P.S. There are some good pictures this week!

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